Solid findings: This new study provides yet more promising data on the positive effect vaccines are starting to have on the pandemic. Last month, England’s health authority reported that a single shot of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine cut the chance of needing hospital treatment by more than 80%. Israel, which has vaccinated more than half its population, recently reported that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had 94% efficacy against infection and 92% against severe disease.
A worrying catch: Cases are on the rise again in several US states, despite the rapidly accelerating vaccine program (72% of Americans 65 and older have now been vaccinated). In a briefing yesterday, CDC director Rochelle Walensky made a plea to Americans to keep following public health measures, saying she had a “recurring feeling” of “impending doom.” She said: “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now, I’m scared.” The increase in US cases is most likely thanks to the effect of the more transmissible UK variant. The growing spread of variants makes the need for as many as people as possible to get vaccinated even more urgent—not only in the US, but in countries around the world as supplies have already been bought up. Many countries are yet to vaccinate anyone. The more the virus is allowed to spread, the higher the chance of variants emerging—and potentially variants which can escape existing vaccines.